The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has detected a confirmed case with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2.
The Head of Communications, NCDC, Dr Yahya Disu, who announced the development in a statement on Thursday, said the variant was detected in a traveler to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant is recognised as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility. It is said that the variant has been detected in over 90 countries and is expected to spread to more countries.
Disu stated that the variant has also been linked to a surge in cases in countries where it is the dominant strain in circulation, adding that there are ongoing studies to understand the impact of the variant on existing vaccines and therapeutics.
“As part of Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, NCDC has been working with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), and other laboratories within the national network, to carry out genomic sequencing.
“This is to enable the detection of variants of concern, and initiate response activities. All data on variants from Nigeria have been published on GISAID, a global mechanism for sharing sequencing data. Given the global risk of spread of the Delta variant, positive samples from international travelers to Nigeria are sequenced regularly,” he said.
The NCDC, however, assured Nigerians that the federal government has put measures in place to combat the disease, asking them to adhere to the recommended safety protocols.
“Proven public health and social measures such as physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and proper use of face masks, prevent infections and save lives,” it added.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease.”
According to the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, “Although we have seen a low number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria in the last eight weeks, it is incredibly important that we do not forget to be careful. The surge in cases in countries across the world and Africa is an important reminder of the risk we face. Please protect yourselves and the people you love by adhering to the known public health and social measures, getting vaccinated if you are eligible and getting tested if you have symptoms”.
The recommended control measures to limit the spread of the Delta variant continue to be testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the current travel and public restrictions.